Thursday, August 20, 2015

Starting My Interactive Notebook Journey

I have decided to do Interactive Notebooks this year for 7th and 8th grade math.  So I have been reading many blogs and posts about INB.  The amazing blogs Math Equals Love and Everybody is a Genius have been my main reading although there have been many more.  Also my great teaching friend Becky over at Sum Math Madness has been amazingly helpful as I start this adventure.

I have been really excited about this adventure, but there have been a couple major sources of stress.  First, the process in class of getting these things made in an efficient manner.  Second, what goes in the first couple pages?  

For the first concern, I created little baskets of materials for each group.  They contain things they may need each day as we create materials for the INB.  Scissors, tape, glue sticks, markers, colored pencils, and calculators.  I found these super cute little baskets at Target for really cheap.  I am also going to spray paint some ice cream buckets to use as trash baskets for each group.

For my second concern, I finally got it hammered out last night and created some templates in word to create some basic INB pages.  I decided to start with a table of contents, then small individual version of this amazing bulletin board, and finally classroom information.

I have been a big standards-based grader for years now.  This has led to my creating a 1-4 rubric for each of the learning targets of the class.  This year I cut them down to 24 for each 7th and 8th grade math.  So I wanted to figure out a way to include the rubrics in the INB.  I am pretty sure I figured out a format to do this pretty efficiently.  We will see how it works out.  I will probably have to adjust multiple times as I go.  I just have to remember that I will not get everything perfect this year.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting students to think about Brain Function in Math

As we get ready to start another school year, I am really thinking about my first week of school.  My first week has  couple major goals:
  • Get to know students' names
  • Convince students they can do math
  • Discuss Multiple Intelligences
  • Discuss how a teenagers brain works
  • Discuss Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset
I usually don't start any of my official "learning targets" until the second week.  I have used numerous approaches for this each year.  This year I am going to try to use the youcubed material for "A Week of Inspirational Math."  I am pretty excited about this approach this year.  It seems to cover most of my major goals while simultaneously getting into some interesting math.  

During the week I am going to slowly go through my first week Prezi presentation about the goals as well.  I am going to use this instead of the youcubed videos on various days.  

When talking about how the brain can get better at math by "doing math" I have used a road analogy in the past.  This year I am going to add some visuals to this analogy to hopefully help it sink in.  

Image 1: Grassy Field
The road to math starts as a grassy field that is slow and hard to cross.  It takes a lot of effort to do math but it can be done.  

Image 2: Small Dirt Path
As you do more math, the brain upgrades the path a little bit to do math.  Now when a student does math the thinking goes a little better because of the repetitive use of that part of the brain.

Image 3: Dirt Road
The brain upgrades again to you can do harder math and it comes a little faster.

Image 4: Tarred Road
The brain keeps upgrading those connections to math knowledge.  The more often you work on math, the better the pathway to math gets so you can learn more complicated math.

Image 5: Interstate Highway
The brain keeps upgrading the connections for harder math problems.

Hopefully these images combined with the messages from YouCubed will help convince students that if they keep on trying in math, they will improve their math skills.